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The world always knew that the iconic dancing fish-turned-meme from Katy Perry‘s 2015 Super Bowl halftime show had a human dancer inside, but until now their identity was a secret. NPR tracked Left Shark down recently, though, and he’s finally ready to reveal himself. He’s a Los Angeles hairstylist named Bryan Gaw, and he toured with Perry for five years before leaving to pursue his new career. And for those wondering if the Super Bowl hijinks got him fired—think again. He continued touring and performing with Perry for another year before calling it quits.
Gaw told NPR that his wild dancing was a planned style choice, not a routine gone haywire. “So there’s a set choreography,” he said. “There’s also what’s called freestyle choreography, or, like, you get to move around or play your character as a dancer. … I’m in a 7-foot blue shark costume. There’s no cool in that. So what’s the other option? Well, I’m gonna play a different character.”
He claims the character he came up with was an underdog. An everyday person who maybe wouldn’t feel comfortable on such a huge stage with so many cameras on him.
During rehearsals, Gaw says he practiced his improvisational moment as “a little goofy,” but when the time came for his actual performance, it only felt right to dial up the weirdness.
“Totally,” Gaw laughed. “I’m on a maximum stage!”
Left Shark trended on Twitter in the U.S. all morning:
👏 to @nprgreene for asking Katy Perry’s “left shark” the tough questions: “You wouldn’t lie to me, right? You really weren’t just screwing up the dance routine?”
— Amory Sivertson (@amorymusic) January 31, 2018
Again, people: Left Shark is actually Stage Right Shark.
— Samuel Scott (@samueljscott) January 31, 2018
No joke: I was on a call where an editor earnestly said "we landed an interview with Left Shark" as if we landed an interview with the president. // Unmasking Katy Perry's Backup Dancer, 'Left Shark' https://t.co/ey4X42ZuUI
— Jessica Reedy (@jessica_reedy) January 31, 2018
Gaw says he lists Left Shark on his resume and it’s helped him land jobs. Now he can add a link to his NPR interview, too.
Christine Friar is a writer and editor in New York who focuses on streaming entertainment and internet culture. Her work has appeared in the Awl, the Fader, New York Magazine, Paper Magazine, Vogue, Elle, and more.